Forests & Habitat
Howard County’s rich farmland and abundant forests create an ideal setting that naturally attracts a variety of wildlife. Over 150 species of birds, fish, mammals, plants, and reptiles call this area home. Preserving the environment while protecting the safety of all of its residents (humans, animals, and plants) is a delicate balance, but vital to the protection of our land and its inhabitants.
Conservation helps ensure the protection of the trees and forests and there are many reasons to conserve and manage this precious resource.
Howard County’s Forest Conservation Program was implemented in 1993. To date, thousands of acres across Howard County have been protected in perpetuity through the creation of hundreds of forest conservation easements. Although some of these are located on public land, many are located on commonly owned community open space, and may also be located on private property.
The Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning’s Forest Conservation information can be found on their Environmental Planning webpage. You can learn more about how to care for forested areas near your home and more by viewing the Educational Guides to Forest Conservation Easements.
Howard County’s Recreation and Parks Department monitors, protects, and enhances forest conservation areas. To learn more about forest conservation inspections, enforcement, and outreach please visit the Natural Resources webpage explains their programs including Forest Conservation inspections and enforcement.
Howard County has a number of sites designated as environmental areas. These are sites where no sports or organized athletic activities are allowed. They were set aside for the purpose of protecting and conserving the natural resources and are there for the enjoyment of those who take pleasure in passive recreational activities such as walking/hiking, bird watching, plant and animal identification, photography, etc. They all feature walking paths or trails and offer a broad variety of habitats and ecosystems for your viewing pleasure.
There are many more Howard County parks and trails for you to explore.
For a listing of parks and environmental areas, please visit the Howard County Parks Directory. Or check out the List of Trail Maps You will find more details about the parks, forest conservation and wildlife. Or try the Rec and Parks Find Your Park App available in the Apple Store or Google Play store
Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks manages the 1,021-acre Middle Patuxent Environmental Area (MPEA) in cooperation with the Middle Patuxent Environmental Foundation. The upland and bottomland hardwood forest, fields, wetlands, ponds, and riparian (riverine) habitats are home to a diversity of wildlife, including an impressive list of about 150 species of birds, over 40 species of mammals, and numerous amphibians, reptiles, fishes, butterflies, plants and other wildlife.
This park is a 221-acre natural resource area that is relatively undisturbed. This area is allowed to remain as an important forested area to protect water quality, provide habitat for wildlife, and support recreational hiking and nature observation.
This environmental education park features mostly open and lightly wooded areas, hard surfaced paths and boardwalks, two ponds (fishing only at large pond on Centennial Lane side of park), observation areas, and a stream. (25 acres) Parking only on Font Hill Drive side of park.
Mostly wooded featuring a scenic pathway (3.4 miles total) with historic interpretive signs. This section of pathway connects Savage to the Lake Elkhorn loop path (hard surfaced).
Recreation and Parks also has programs to manage wildlife in natural areas. To learn more about Deer Management and more, please visit their Wildlife page.